Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch

Japanese LP obi - click for full-size picture of front AND back of obiNo differences reported between the vinyl and the CD versions.

ESSENTIAL VERSIONS FOR COMPLETISTS: Any version.  [completist's guide]


  • Original vinyl (Barking Pumpkin FW 38066  in the US, CBS 85804 in the UK, May 1982)
  • Canadian vinyl (Epic Records PW 38066, lyric sheet insert)
  • Digitally remastered vinyl (EMI EMC-3501 1985? Capitol ST-6534, 1982?) (might be the same as the version below!)
  • UK re-issue (Fame FA 3180?)
  • Portuguese vinyl (EMI 26 08141)
  • Israeli vinyl (CBS 85804, with a little Hebrew print on the back cover)
  • Argentine vinyl (EMI 5318 - in a "Fame" series)
  • Brazilian vinyl
  • Japanese vinyl (CBS/Sony 25AP 2362)
  • Korean vinyl (High Light STEREO 339, blue-on-white cover, quite possibly counterfeit, and "originally ROUGH".)
  • Cassette
  • Original Euro CD coupled with The Man from Utopia (EMI CDP 7-90074-2, April 1986 or June 1988)
  • Original US CD (Barking Pumpkin D2-74235, June 1991)
  • UK CD re-issue (Zappa Records CDZAP 42, June 1991)
  • Zappa Records cassette (TZAPPA42)
  • Japanese CD (VACK 5088)
  • Russian picture CD (JPCD UL 98493)
  • 1995 CD (Ryko RCD 10537, May 2 1995; VACK 5088 in Japan, renumbered 5223 in 1998)
  • Japanese paper-sleeve CD (Ryko/VACK 1243, May 29 2002 - black & white inner sleeve with Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar ad & printed lyrics; sticker included)
  • 2012 UMe CD (Zappa Records ZR3865 September 25, 2012)

Original Vinyl

From Robert Cloos:

The UK version also had a bonus 7-inch single with material from the Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar box. The Dutch version has an inner sleeve with Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar ads.

The single was CBS EPX 147, "The Frank Zappa EP":

1. Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar

2. Variations on the Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression
3. Why Johnny Can't Read

The catalogue number CBS EPX 147 has been confirmed, but some sources have CBS 85804 instead. Information wanted!


I seem to remember the inner sleeve saying something about the album being mixed to sound correct on JBL (model number) speakers or equivalent. Please set your tone controls to the flat position and listen that way before making any bass or treble enhancements (my paraphrasing). I remember being fascinated by that note. Of course, the album sounded like crap on my stereo with flat tone settings ... I obviously didn't have JBL or equivalent speakers.

Japanese Version

The Japanese version of this album had quite a unique, beautiful obi  with all sorts of excessive extremes on it. From Mikael Agardsson:

The LP comes with an English lyric sheet and a message from FZ, and also with a dual-sided poster (59x89 cm) with the lyrics in Japanese and some drawings (made by Moon as a child?).

Message from FZ

Here is the message from FZ that came with most or all vinyl pressings:

April, 1982

Dear Maniac Person:

When the three individual Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar albums were made available by mail order last year, the response in the United States was fantastic ... it was even more fantastic in Europe when CBS released them as a deluxe boxed set around Christmas time. The reviews in the rock press were all outrageous, and to everyone's suprise, Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar received several awards for various types of excellence ... also, some people thought the albums were a hot item to import into the U.S.

As a result of the record store interest in these special discs, Barking Pumpkin has decided to make the deluxe triple-LP set available now as an over-the-counter item, simultaneously with the release of Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch.

If you don't have a copy yet, go grab one ... the supply is limited.


Yours truly,

FZ [in Zappa's hand]

Frank Zappa


7720 SUNSET BLVD., LOS ANGELES, CA 90046 (213) 851-5461 TELEX 194738

Digitally-Remastered Vinyl

StatusBaby sends over an interesting theory/rant/explanation:

Either the Digitally Remastered EMI EMC-3501 release was re-released as Fame FA 3180 (which I doubt) OR they are one and the same release.


[The front cover] shows the front cover with the DIGITALLY REMASTERED stapline across the top (although due to the limitations of my scanner just IGITALLY remastered here!) and the ----Fame--- logo in the top right corner.

[The rear cover] shows the rear cover - showing the ---Fame--- logo and stating "Distributed by Music For Pleasure Limited, Hayes, Middlesex" followed by the 1980s EMI logo.

[The label to the right] shows the Side One Label showing both the EMC 3501 serial number and the Fame 3180 serial number.

Music For Pleasure or MFP was EMIs budget label - familiar to all people in the UK as a source of truly terrible recordings and constant rehashings of old recordings. Think 'Tijuana Brass Meets The Beatles' or 'The Geoff Love Orchestra Play Sci-Fi Disco Themes' and your almost there. These were the records that sold with the price usually printed on the sleeve - and they would be less than half price of a new release. I remember buying MFP albums for 99p when a chart album was £2.99. They were all about cheesy repackaging and reprocessing. See the excellent vinylvulture site for more details

By the 1980s the Music For Pleasure label had lost all respect and street cred - and no-one would want to be seen dead with a MFP LP. Even the best known respectable record on MFP - Pink Floyd's 'Relics' was re-issued (it almost never went out of print) on another EMI related label. Hence the invention of the Fame label - designed specifically as a reissue label - but aimed at a more street-cred audience. The Fame label released music by The Buzzcocks and Kate Bush as well as Zappa - and it is my bet that this SATLTSADW remastered edition went straight to the Fame label.

However - I could be wrong - you just need to find someone with a Digitally Remastered copy that does not mention Fame.

Euro CD coupled with THE MAN FROM UTOPIA

Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch and The Man from Utopia were originally released on CD in Europe as a two-for-the-price-of-one set: both albums on one CD. (The The Man from Utopia CD version is rather different from the vinyl.)

From Scott Shupe:

Here is the weird part: The Man from Utopia (1983) is first, tracks 1-10, then Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch (1982), tracks 11-16. No extra tracks.

All subsequent CDs had more elaborate packaging than this: three pictures of Frank and Moon, letters from Moon and a fake consumer report written by Zappa.

1995 CD

Official Ryko statement: "New master. New timing sheet." [full statement]

Thomas Marrot points out that there are slight audio differences between the 1995 release and earlier releases (they sync, but don't cancel out perfectly), meaning that some slight EQ was applied to the 1995 iteration. They're more or less audibly identical, though.

From Dan Watkins:

The 1995 CD has more photos than the LP, including the front cover of the 1982 "Valley Girl/You Are What You Is" single and some 1991 photos of Frank and Moon. It also has two letters written by Moon and a fake consumer report on the album. [These were also on the Zappa Records CD and original US CD - Ed.]

Japanese Paper-Sleeve Version (2001-2002)

Starting in 2001, Video Arts Music released a limited-edition series (2000 copies each) of Zappa CDs in paper sleeves - miniature LP sleeves. There was nothing special about this series other than the covers, which were very well done - inserts and "bonuses" were reproduced, the albums that originally had gatefold covers got little miniature gatefolds, and cover track lists were exactly as on the corresponding LPs, even in cases where the CD has bonus tracks or a different track order. Included in this series were some entries that never had "proper" LP issues, i.e. Läther. Additionally, some rarities--like the "green/gold" cover of Chunga's Revenge--were reproduced as special items in this run.

We need to stress that the sound quality of these discs matches the US Ryko issues, which they are clearly derived from. These are collectors items, not new remastered editions.

Late-2012-update: It appears as if the Japanese may be warming up the mini-LP ovens for a new batch based on the 2012 UMe remasters. We'll let you know if this happens.

2012 UMe CD

Taken from the 1993 digital master, and reported to be the same.FZ Ashtray from 2012 Reissue

BluesBro notes something interesting in the credits:

"Applause to Sotero Delgado at SD Video Engineering for Emergency BVU Lunar Landings and to the makers of the Lindberg/Blue Convenction Oven at UMRK."

What does this mean? Could it be an indication that the Ryko digital master was not used? Is this note on other 'non-remastered' albums?


  • Any details on cassette versions?

Additional Informants

  • Mikael Agardsson
  • JWB
  • Victor Dubiler
  • Richard Kolke
  • Bossk (R)
  • Gonçalo Falcão
  • Unholy

home - vinyl vs CDs - weirdo discography - bootlegs - misc - hot lynx - e-mail us at zappa dot patio at gmail dot com 2006-04-22 20:02

Search WWW Search all of

DISCLAIMER: people quoted may not share webmaster's opinions (on James Brown); information culled from many sources with no guarantees; site may look bad in other than latest Internet Explorer for Windows (I wish I were skilled enough to change this last one).